From October 2011 onwards, The CluStrat project and its EU network of partners worked intensively on developing a joint strategy on how to enhance the innovation capacity and competitiveness of clusters in the Central Europe area. All 18 partners and 7 associated institutions from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine joined forces to explore suitable and effective cluster concepts and supporting policy measures. The result are 8 pilot actions and policy recommendations on new cluster concept, that will both contribute to the national and regional cooperation.
The results were presented on 24 June 2014 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 4th Transnational policy dialoge, that was hosted by Slovenian partner, Spirit Slovenia. Mrs. Tanja Drobnič, Spirit Slovenia stressed: „A cross sectorial approach for cluster projects could be the new trend to foster innovation, which also allows for a transfer of knowledge to more traditional industries and for smart specialization strategy that goes beyond national borders. Today clustering is not only needed in technology-sectors but also in service innovation, creative industries and social innovation. “
Mrs. Valentina DeMarchi from Padua University presented the policy recommendations an new cluster concepts that would include 3 emerging industries: active aging, green economy and intelligent mobility At the same time, several cross-cutting issues such as gender and diversity, internationalization or technology & knowledge transfer become increasingly important for the performance of clusters. Mrs. DeMarchi recommended:„ In order to take the opportunities in emerging industries and develop trans-regional and trans-national cooperation, new concept of clusters should consider putting together different existing and unconnected actors with complementary knowledge coming from: existing clusters, new-founded clusters and organizations which, even if not part of a cluster, still possess competences that are relevant for cross-cluster cooperation. Furthermore, emerging industries foster also cross-cluster cooperation initiatives at: cluster level (inter-cluster cooperation), regional level (regional clustering) and European level (European clustering)»
These new cluster concepts as developed have been tested in pilot actions in the project partners’ regions. Important result of CluStrat were also 8 pilot actions, that presented a valuable team work and networking activities that in past two years involved more then 1000 organisations. Pilot actions were related to ''Smart Housing'', ''Networking for development of zero energy buildings'', ''Technology transfer in the frame of advanced materials for increasing the innovation of products and technologies'', ''Cross clustering network of mechatronic, ICT and security modules for development the human-machine systems'', ''Trans-regional clustering reflecting societal challenge'', ''Light Weight – Development of strategic partnership in the light weight constructions area'', ''Ambient Assisted Living'' and “Common cross-cluster activities in the field of Ambient Assisted Living”.
Clustrat members also drawn 6 policy recommendations that the member organisations will communicate with their legislative state and EU authorities in order to include new cluster concept into the national cluster develpoment strategy.
Concluding Clustrat event will this winter in Venice.
Clusters are – usually regional – hubs of competences along a value chain in a given industry or technology branch, representing a critical mass of actors from R&D, industry and other institutional contexts. Clusters have thus become an accepted part of today’s innovation framework, and innovation policy support for advancing the positive impact of professionalized cluster management organizations (cluster initiatives) on the regional competitiveness is available in many European regions, as well as at the EU level.
Cluster initiatives can not only play an important part in creating an awareness of the new market opportunities in the emerging industries among their member companies. They can also act as promoters of cross-fertilization with other industries and technologies, through cross-cluster collaborations within and beyond regions. The CluStrat project develops new cluster concepts and cooperation models that encourage this role and function, and issues recommendations to cluster and innovation policy at all levels with regard to their implementation. In doing so, CluStrat has already shown that cluster policy has potentially an important role to plan in raising awareness on the sides of cluster and innovation actors at regional and national levels, and in preparing them for the challenges and opportunities entailed by societal challenges, related emerging industries and smart specialization.
Several pilot actions are currently implemented by the consortium to test the new cluster concepts. The pilot actions are about establishing new forms of clusters – including a cluster of social entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic - , at experimenting new multidisciplinary cross-cluster collaborations and platforms, and clusters-based innovation partnerships, or at testing qualification schemes for the cluster management. One pilot action assesses possible applications of the KET advanced manufacturing.
Against the general policy framework of strategic reorientation of regional innovation systems through “smart” specialization of the given assets and competences, CluStrat contributes to bridging the gap towards new transnational value chains that are no longer targeting single industries, but provision of solutions for new cross-cutting areas such as “Active and Healthy Ageing”.
CluStrat is a strategic innovation project implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The consortium convenes 18 organizations from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Seven institutions from Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine are involved as associated partners without financial contribution. The three years project has started in October 2011. CluStrat is coordinated by Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum in close coordination and with financial support from the Ministry of Finance and Economics Baden-Württemberg.